Mussel Monitoring. The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is conducting a study this winter to evaluate chemical pollution in the nearshore shoreline at about 100 locations around the Sound with Illahee having one of the stations. The monitoring form for the site is shown below. More information on the research project can be found at their website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/research/projects/marine_toxics/index.html
Pacific Blue Mussels. A native species of mussels, Pacific blue mussels (Mytilus trossulus), is being used because as filter feeders they absorb pollution. The mussels are in the four black bags that are attached to the cage.
Mussel Cages. The mussels are placed in cages to protect them from predators such as seastars (starfish), which there a plenty of on Illahee beaches. They also need to be anchored in place as can be seen be the spiral anchor being installed by Bob Johnston. Note that Bob is wearing a headlamp as the low tides are late at night during the winter months, which means you won’t be able to see the cages during daylight hours. If anyone is interested in seeing them during a winter low tide let us know.
Citizen Science Volunteers. The plan is to use Citizen Science Volunteers to place the cages. In our case Kitsap County’s Water Resources Coordinator, Mauro Heine, is working with DFW to assist volunteers, as was Bob Johnston, Illahee resident, Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel member, and coordinator of the stations at local Naval facilities. We asked why DFW didn’t use the Port of Illahee dock for a station, and were told they wanted to stay away from the creosote pilings at the dock.
Shrimp. After placing the mussel cages at the 0 tide level, we looked at the waters edge at low tide and noticed what appeared to be small gold eyes coming from the shallow water. Upon closer look they were small shrimp all along the shoreline. They were so fast we had to get a net to try and catch one. They weren’t very big and we wondered if they aren’t what some refer to as ghost shrimp. If anyone has anymore information about them, please let us know.
Habitat Grant? We were glad to hear that at least one Illahee resident put in an application for a Backyard Habitat Grant with the Kitsap Conservation District (KCD). We walked up Illahee Creek with Carin Anderson from the KCD and Shawn Higgins with Natural Systems Design, as they looked at habitat along the stream, to see what might be done to help. If the grant is approved we will try to get a copy and post it.